Fires, Fuels, and Longleaf Pine in the Western Gulf Region

Prescribed fire workshop held on the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana

Dave Haywood, retired Forest Service scientist, shares his knowledge about using prescribed fire to manage longleaf pine stands in the western Gulf region. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
Dave Haywood (right), retired Forest Service scientist, shares his knowledge about using prescribed fire to manage longleaf pine stands in the western Gulf region. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

On April 6, 2016, scientists from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) presented findings on prescribed fire, longleaf pine, and other topics during an all-day workshop titled “Louisiana Fire, Fuels, and Longleaf Pine Management: Lessons from the Kisatchie National Forest and the Palustris Experimental Forest.”

Mary Anne S. Sayer, SRS research plant physiologist based in Pineville, Louisiana, helped coordinate the workshop with the Southern Fire Exchange (SFE), the Southern Forest Heritage Museum based in Long Leaf, Louisiana, and the Kisatchie National Forest (Kisatchie). The workshop’s purpose was to expand the knowledge of landowners in the western Gulf region about managing longleaf pine forests with prescribed fire. The organizers capped registration for April’s meeting at 30 participants, a goal that was reached in less than two weeks of advertisement.

One highlight of the workshop was a field trip led by recently retired SRS research forester Dave Haywood, where he talked about research on longleaf pine management using prescribed fire in the western range of the species and the successful application of prescribed fire in the Kisatchie.

“Dave was doing research on longleaf pine establishment and management well before it was fashionable,” said Sayer. “The knowledge presented at this workshop comes from a long history of partnership between SRS and the Kisatchie to advance longleaf pine restoration in our area. We also invited Jeff Bein from the Homochitto National Forest in Mississippi to participate. We got to know him during a research site reconnaissance trip and found him extremely knowledgeable and experienced about fire and longleaf pine on highly productive soils.”

In addition, ongoing research on ways to increase juvenile growth in longleaf by fine-tuning the timing of prescribed fire and planting seedlings of superior quality was presented by Sayer and SRS research plant physiologists Susana Sung.

The workshop consisted of a morning educational program at the Southern Forest Heritage Museum followed by a catered lunch and a field tour on the Palustris Experimental Forest. The agenda and field tour locations were designed to address some of the challenges experienced by private landowners using prescribed fire as a longleaf pine management tool in the bluestem pine woodlands of the western Gulf region. Participants included private landowners, as well as individuals working for state, federal, and private agencies responsible for drafting management plans for private landowners.

Workshop topics included:

  • Conservation of the natural fuel bed to aid uniform prescribed fire after planting,
  • Chemical and mechanical treatments that aid fuel bed establishment,
  • Methods of invasive plant control with and without fire,
  • Ways to increase the competitive ability of longleaf pine where loblolly pine naturally seeds in,
  • Physiological responses of longleaf pine to season of prescribed fire, and
  • Longleaf pine production responses to season and intensity of prescribed fire.

“These workshops with private landowners are essential to the success of the America’s Longleaf Restoration initiative, which has set the goal of increasing the area of longleaf pine-dominated forests from 3.4 to 8.0 million acres by 2025,” said Sayer. “This also fits with the primary mission of the SRS Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems unit to make growing longleaf pine more attractive to private landowners throughout this species’ range.”

For more information, email Mary Anne S. Sayer at msword@fs.fed.us.

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